A comprehensive list of projects that range from annual maintenance to personal upgrades, often accompany the purchase of any boat. We were fully prepared that we would soon be trading some of our free time to work through our own list of boat projects. What we didn’t know was that free time and boat project time are not equally measured. Other cruisers have confirmed that living on a boat allows you the ability to define time as “boat time,” “boat project time,” “engine maintenance time,” and another term coined “boatyard time.” To calculate “boat project time,” one must take the time you estimated to complete the project, and automatically multiple by 2. If you’ve never done the project before add 2 more hours to account for your learning curve, another hour to account for any possible mistakes, and one more hour to fix them. After diving into the project, add one hour for the items you didn’t anticipate you’d uncover, and then another half hour to realize you’ve gotten distracted. Add additional time as needed to acquire the parts or tools you didn’t know you were missing, and soon you’ll be entering into the boat project time zone.
Our boat is 20 years old and despite its time capsule condition, being the first owners to actually live aboard full-time has given us a new perspective on additional items that needed a little extra TLC. Items we didn’t plan on having to deal with fixing but now require attention, are all added to our master list of boat projects. Below are some of the projects we have crossed off our list.
Replaced all regular light bulbs with LED bulbs – Slightly expensive bulbs, but they draw less amps from the battery and last longer.
Tune The Rig – A referral led us to Kim an Australian native who came to tune our rig. Measurements were made on the tension of each metal stay that holds up our mast. Adjustments were made to fall within a desired range per factory specifications. Kim went on to describe that tension on the rig should be adjusted by half turn increments to the turnbuckles to provide greater accuracy. Additional adjustments may need to be made after we go sailing and note the performance of the boat.
Replaced Outdated Propane Tank – A simple trip to Lowes and a exchange of the old tank for the new one, had us setup with propane. The new tank was much smaller than the old, so it takes up less room. Score! After a few weeks of waiting for Home Depot to get the proper attachment, we hooked the tank up to our system and we were in business. The little propane stove was working like a dream. I made our very first home cooked meal.
Repack Stuffing Box – Previous maintenance logs suggest it was never done. What’s a stuffing box? It’s basic purpose is to provide a water tight seal around the propeller shaft. After getting past the mental notion of letting a gentle stream of water flood the boat, we completed this project with our boat in the water. Grant changed the packing, while I worked a small electronic pump that dumped the water collecting in our bilge (underside of our boat) overboard. Replacing the packing went fine but, after we were finished a consistent stream of water was still entering the boat. What? The stuffing box nuts had been tightened so there was no water dripping from there. Instead, we found the leak streaming from the underside of the shaft log hose near the rear of the boat. In all of the excitement, I accidentally kicked Grant’s phone into bilge where it fell into the water. Oops! I quickly pulled it out and cast it aside to help deal with the more immediate problem at hand.
Let’s see, 1 drop full of water ever thirty seconds was now entering our boat. Do the math and carry the 1 . . . I mean this is how boats sink, right? I ran to Lowes to get something to stop the leak, while Grant asked a neighbor for a second opinion. Upon my return, the metal clamps around the hose had been tightened enough to stop the leak. We were worried about over tightening. We realized that upon loosening the stuffing box nuts, it was possible that the clamps around the hose were also jarred loose. Additionally the boat spent some time rattling across the U.S. on the back of a semi. That’s enough to loosen anyone’s clamp. Hoses, just like humans, also get stiff with age and that can lead to cracking. We decided not to take any chances for possible failure of the hose in the future. So, we scheduled another haul out for hose replacement and inspection. Needless to say, we wanted peace of mind.